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Djibouti

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Djibouti because of the threat of terrorist attack and the uncertain regional security environment.
  • Do not travel within ten kilometres of the border with Eritrea because of the ongoing border tensions.
  • Do not travel within ten kilometres of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnapping.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • The militant group Al-Shabaab has stated its intention to conduct attacks in Djibouti in response to Djibouti’s participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Attacks could be targeted at Djiboutian or western interests.
  • Avoid protests, demonstrations and large gatherings as they can turn violent. In December 2015, up to 19 people were killed in a confrontation with police at a religious gathering near Balbala Djibouti city.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Djibouti. The Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa provides consular and passport assistance to Australians in Djibouti.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Djibouti in Tokyo for up-to-date information.

A valid Yellow Fever Certificate is required for entry into Djibouti if you have arrived from a country where yellow fever is endemic.

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Exercise a high degree of caution in Djibouti because of the threat of terrorist attack and the uncertain security environment. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

The militant group Al-Shabaab has stated its intention to conduct attacks in Djibouti in response to Djibouti’s participation in the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Attacks could be targeted at Djiboutian or western interests.

Exercise caution in crowded areas and other public places.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include areas frequented by foreigners such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, markets and shopping areas, places of worship, embassies, outdoor recreation events, tourist areas and historic sites. Djibouti hosts a number of foreign military bases. Airports, aircraft and military interests are also possible targets.

Border with Somalia: Do not travel within ten kilometres of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnapping.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Civil unrest/political tension

Avoid protests, demonstrations and large gatherings as they can turn violent.

In December 2015, up to 19 people were killed in a confrontation with police at a religious gathering in the Bouldougo area, near Balbala, west of Djibouti city.

Civil unrest or armed conflict in neighbouring countries (Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea) may also negatively affect the security situation.

Border with Eritrea: Do not travel within ten kilometres of the border with Eritrea. There were military clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea in June 2008 and further conflict is possible. Monitor local information sources for up-to-date reports.

Crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, occurs in Djibouti.

There have been reports of banditry outside the capital.

Do not travel within 10km of the border with Somalia (Somaliland) due to the threat of kidnapping.

Avoid visiting Dorale and Khor Ambado beaches late in the afternoon due to their isolation.

The risk of crime increases at night. Don’t walk alone after dark.

Money and valuables

Djibouti's economy is cash-based. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at major banks, but credit cards are not widely accepted. There are a limited number of ATMs in Djibouti and these are frequently out of service.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Local travel

Djibouti has been declared a 'mine-safe' country, meaning landmines have been identified and marked, but have not been removed. Remain on paved roads, especially in the northern districts of Tadjoura and Obock and the southern district of Ali Sabieh.

Avoid travelling to remote areas of the country, including the borders with Ethiopia and Somalia where the presence of security forces is limited.

If you travel to the northern region of Djibouti (above the 12 degree north latitude line which passes through Obock) you'll need permission from the Government of Djibouti before you go.

Some roads in Djibouti are narrow, poorly lit and badly maintained. Roaming livestock are an additional hazard especially at night. The standard of driving and vehicle maintenance is generally poor. Police set up wire coils as roadblocks on some of the major roads, and these may be difficult to see at night. Intercity travel is limited to bus and ferry services between the capital city and the towns of Tadjoura and Obock. Don't travel at night, and travel overland in a convoy. More information: Road safety and driving

In the event of an accident, the driver should wait until the police arrive on the scene.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway has opened and provides freight and passenger services.

Piracy:​ There is a high risk of piracy in the coastal areas of Djibouti. There have been attacks by pirates in and around Djibouti's waters and the Gulf of Aden. Pirates have been using motherships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,800km) from the coast of Somalia. All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft and luxury cruise liners. Exercise extreme caution near these waters. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

More information: Piracy

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Djibouti.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Djibouti are severe, and include long jail sentences and heavy fines. The narcotic khat is legal in Djibouti, but is illegal in many other countries. More information: Drugs

Homosexuality is not illegal in Djibouti, but local communities are intolerant of homosexuality and same sex relationships. More information: LGBTI travellers

Hunting is forbidden by law.

Public displays of drunkenness could result in a two year prison term.

Photography of infrastructure, such as public buildings, ports, airports, bridges and military facilities, is prohibited. It is also illegal to photograph military personnel. Your equipment will be confiscated and you may be arrested. Take care when taking photos near these prohibited places. If in doubt, seek advice from authorities.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

More than ninety percent of Djiboutians are Muslim. Respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Djibouti and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan occurs between mid-May and mid-June 2018. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting.

More information: Ramadan

Information for dual nationals: Dual nationals

Health

Get comprehensive travel insurance to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of health facilities in the capital is limited and very basic to non-existent in outlying regions. Medicines are sometimes unavailable in rural areas and can be expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (at considerable expense) would be necessary.

Malaria occurs widely throughout the year in Djibouti. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever and filariasis) are also a risk to travellers. Take measures to avoid insect bites including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, meningococcal disease and tuberculosis) occur with more serious outbreaks from time to time. Boil drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea. High summer temperatures can lead to dehydration and sunstroke.

There have been ongoing outbreaks of polio in countries across the Horn of Africa. Complete a primary course of polio vaccination and receive a booster dose prior to travel. If you are unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks before you depart.

Natural disasters

The climate is very hot and dry from May to October, with strong dust storms occurring in June. Daytime temperatures can be over 50 degrees. Djibouti is experiencing severe drought after four years of below average rainfall. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected in certain areas.

Djibouti is in an active volcanic and earthquake zone.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national emergency number is 18. Get a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular services charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Djibouti. You can obtain full consular and passport assistance from the Australian Embassy, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

See contact details below: 

Australian Embassy

Australian Embassy
Turkish compound (off Cape Verde street)
Bole Subcity, Woreda 3
PO Box 3715
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Telephone: +251 11 667 2678
Facsimile: +251 11 667 2868
Email: adba.consular@dfat.gov.au
Website: ethiopia.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Australian Embassy in Addis Ababa, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources